They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but I’m pretty sure that no one before, say, the 1930’s, could ever say, “Sorry, boss, that I’m late for work. There was a horrible traffic jam. The (chariots/ ox carts/ horse and buggy’s) were bumper-to-bumper all the way!”
Only us modern humans know the stress and agony of rush-hour traffic. And some of us every day. The endocrine system is working overtime. In the old days, it kicked up big-time when we heard the roar of the lion or hiss of the snake, adrenaline flooding the system to prepare us for fight or flight. And then the danger passed and the system stabilized. Hormones working as they were designed to.
But low-grade, constant stress is another animal altogether. In the traffic jam, the tension mounts as the clock ticks relentlessly toward the start of your scheduled meeting/ class/ appointment. You get a momentary pleasure zipping into another lane and then re-entering the one you need three blocks down, but is this really satisfying, knowing how you curse the people who did that to you? Do you really imagine that you’re the only one who’s late and all the others have all the leisure in the world to crawl at a snail’s pace? And speaking of snails, traffic jams give new meaning to the haiku I posted yesterday: “The snail crawls two or three feet—and the day is over.” That snail was thoroughly relaxed and content with the slow tempo of a savored life. But the modern bi-ped housed in its steel shell while stuck in traffic is hardly savoring a life of leisure. Au contraire.
Somehow San Francisco has decided that the two roads I need to get to school, my Plan A and Plan B, both need significant work which simply must be done at rush-hour time day after day after day after day. I’m talking almost six weeks now in each place!! What are you guys doing out there?!!! Might you start at 10 am and end at 4:00? Work harder on the weekend? Work faster instead of chatting with each other smirking at us poor suckers crammed into one lane?
Well, it’s one way to get me out on my bike more. No stress, fresh air, good exercise, no carbon emissions— it’s a win, win, win, win. If only I could figure out how to do it with a bass xylophone strapped to my back. I’ll get back to you.